Now this is what I call Christmas. It’s cold, and it’s snowing. I’ve got a little mug of mulled wine, and the little mug is shaped like a little bootie. None of this lazing about out in the summer sun that I’m used to in New Zealand: this is the Christkindlesmarkt in Nuremberg.

The market itself dates back to 1628, while the cobblestone square it is housed in has been here since medieval times. I take a walk among the little stores that fill the square. I take a whiff of the Christmas air. I smell the bratwurst sausage frying everywhere. Almonds being roasted and stollen, or baked fruit bread, being baked. And lebkuchen, the little gingerbread men. But most of all, I smell gluehwein, the mulled red wine. Now this is the good stuff.

After I’ve had a couple, I’m chatting to a bloke called Herr Weber who reliably tells me two of those and you can’t drive home”. He doesn’t know I’m on my third. Anyway, I’m walking, not driving.

Nuremberg’s Christkindlesmarkt is one of the older and more well known German Christmas markets. They do Christmas well here. There are churches all around, kids singing carols and families and boyfriends and girlfriends and grandads and tourists and whoever else walking around generally feeling, well, like Christmas. They’ve even got their own fairy or angel, called the Christkind.

She’s elected every year, and not only is she the spirit of this market, but she shoots off to other Christmas markets all over the world to spread her cheer. Her name is Eva Sattler. Nice girl. I met her. It’s that kind of place.

And they’ve done well to keep a lot of cheap and tacky goods out. Instead, there are plenty of stores filled with more traditional German fair, such as beautiful angels or the intriguing zwetschgenmaennle. These intriguing little figurines are made out of wire, dried prunes and paper. Not much use to anyone, but with my judgement affected by equal amounts of Christmas cheer and gluehwein, I buy one. Did I mention you could buy little Christmas booties filled with mulled wine here?
In the cold light of day the next morning, I look at the gothic little prune couple I picked up. What am I to do with you little ones, I ask? That’s right, my little sister needs a present. She’ll love these little prune figures, won’t she?

Largely irrelevant presents for loved ones. Now that’s what I call Christmas.”